School district plans listening sessions
By Robert Cloud
The Waupaca School District plans two listening sessions regarding plans to upgrade its athletic facilities.
Public meetings are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 6, in the district office board room.
John Kneer, of the Rettler Corp., will discuss the details and costs of the two options under consideration.
District Administrator Greg Nyan said the meetings are to encourage input from members of the Waupaca community.
“We believe that your voice is important and we want to hear from you,” Nyen said. “If you have thoughts, ideas or concerns with the proposed campus improvements, please consider attending this meeting.”
At a Dec. 8, 2016 meeting, the Waupaca School Board reviewed a study by the Rettler Corp., of Stevens Point.
An earlier assessment by the district’s insurance provider found potential safety hazards with the grandstand and the track.
Rettler’s study examined the need and costs for improvements at Haberkorn Field, then compared that with moving all outdoor athletics to a single facility at Waupaca High School.
The district would spend an estimated $730,950 to upgrade Haberkorn Field.
The total costs for renovations include $452,500 for the grandstand, $120,000 for site improvements, $30,000 for demolition, $20,000 for a structural engineering review and $108,450 for soft costs and contingencies.
Among the disadvantages of renovating Haberkorn Field, school board members in December noted that athletes have to be bussed even to home games at Haberkorn. Parking is spread throughout the neighborhood. The track is unusable for meets, and the Haberkorn site can only be used for football.
At a Dec. 13, 2016 meeting, the school board passed a resolution allowing community members, organizations and businesses to contribute to a separate fund to be used for the costs associated with building a new athletic complex located on the Waupaca High School campus.
The project is expected to cost just under $2.32 million.
In December, Carl Hayek, the district’s business manager, said the project to build a new field at the high school can be completed without passing a referendum or raising taxes.
Hayek said the district could cover about $1.1 million of the estimated project costs by using available cash and selling assets, such as Haberkorn Field and the district’s central office.
Community fundraising could cover the remaining $1.2 million.
“The end result is proposed to be a zero impact to the local taxpayer’s property tax while providing an athletic venue that reflects the quality of our programs, pride and opportunity,” Nyen said.
Moving all outdoor athletics to the high school property allows the district to consolidate its maintenance work from two natural-turf fields at two sites to one artificial-turf field to a single site. It also reduces insurance and transportation concerns.
All outdoor sports programs would be able to use the new stadium, not just football.
The synthetic turf would allow the field to be used for soccer, football, baseball and softball spring practice and as an alternate game site.
The existing grandstand at the high school would be incorporated into the new athletic complex, new 1,500-seat bleachers and the existing press box would be used.
Expansion of concessions, storage and restrooms for outdoor athletic events, as well as on-site parking, are planned.
The district would either sell its existing lights or re-use them.
The proposed new athletic complex has the potential to provide facilities that reach every student, rather than a small group of student athletes,” Nyen said. Grade school students involved in recreation programs, high school physical education students and athletes in nearly every sport could benefit from the proposed facility.
“The opportunity to reach every student in the district, attract new students to the district and demonstrate the pride we have in our students and community is within reach for the School District of Waupaca,” Nyen said.